10 teacher mini-grants selected to fund classroom innovation

The Williamsport Area School District Education Foundation will award $9,427 to fund eight projects as part of its annual Teacher Mini-Grant Program.

It also plans to award $2,999 for one Educator-in-Residence project and a literacy program by seeking funds from the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania through Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) donations.

The program is designed to give district teachers the ability to enhance educational opportunities and activities for students through innovative and creative projects on an annual basis.

Ranging in areas from art to technology to special education, each of the applications awarded exemplifies strength in innovation to enhance the learning experience for students to the tune of the foundation’s mission.

The following is a listing of each grant awarded:

Master Class at Mansfield University ($700) – Choral students in Kristy Ingersoll’s class will train and then attend a master class with Dr. Peggy Dettwiler at Mansfield University in the spring. The students will prepare and document the experience as they progress to monitor their improvement and development.

The Greenhouse Effect ($1,500) – Led by Kevin Mumbauer, the greenhouse project will produce plants, vegetables, herbs and flowers that will be used and consumed in and around Lycoming Valley Intermediate School. These can be studied in science and health, used for nutrition and cooking projects, and planted to beautify the school and its landscape.

This will revive the greenhouse at Lycoming Valley as well as introduce students to horticulture prior to their exposure to the department at the high school.

Camp Ophelia ($1,268) – At Camp Ophelia, the girls use art activities, group discussions and role-play to explore positive responses to rational aggression and to build an understanding of the importance of friendships to adult success.

This camp serves girls in seventh and eighth grade during the after-school program at Williamsport Area Middle School. Students will report to the after-school program and then go to a designated location within the school. High school mentors will assist in running the groups of students.

Our Kinder-Garden ($968) – This project will connect everyday activities with important academic concepts by using garden-based techniques in an outdoor setting to increase student involvement, motivation, focus and academic achievement.

By adding a school garden at Hepburn-Lycoming, teacher Theresa Zataveski will tie in the kindergarten Treasures Units: Plants and Animals, as well as integrate science and social studies concepts.

Plastics Experience, RC Car Competition ($745) – The goal of this project in science teacher Andrew Paulhamus’ class is to combine two different halves of the plastics course into one culminating activity in which students will experience, firsthand, each of the different roles: designer, engineer, manufacturer, artist, etc., of the polymer production process. Students will be asked to design a car body that provides the best balance of race performance, aesthetic characteristics and mold-ability. Students will participate in a car show in which they will show off the appeal of their cars.

Inside Out: Williamsport ($1,500) – WAHS students in art teacher Andrea McDonough-Varner’s class will make a commitment to their community and create an action statement through INSIDE OUT.

It gives everyone in the community a chance to share their portrait and make a statement for what they stand for. It is a global platform for people to share their untold stories and transform messages of personal identity into works of public art.

Creation of a Sensory Room at Cochran ($1,495) – This project at Cochran Primary School in Ariel Thomas and Michelle Pierce’s classroom will focus on creating a sensory room that will provide autistic and emotional support students with an environment that is sensitive to their sensory needs, as well as provide an appropriate atmosphere for students to gain sensory input and release energy.

IXL Software for Math Curriculum ($1,250) – The software program, IXL assesses students’ understanding as they practice, and generates detailed performance reports to give teachers valuable insight about student abilities. The project will be led by math teacher Linda Radocaj. IXL’s 37 reports include data on grade-level proficiency, trouble spots and even progress toward meeting state standards.

This data is key in providing immediate feedback for students, parents and teachers and motivates students to set goals and work to achieve them.

Additionally, the two projects that may be funded with EITC dollars are:

The Voice: 6th Grade Fluency Edition ($1,499.92) – Students at Curtin who struggle with oral fluency when reading will be able to use iPod technology to both hear how fluent readers sound and, in turn, then read and record themselves to track their progress. Often, students who struggle with reading have trouble comprehending what’s being read because they lack fluency. The goal of this project, led by Title 1 teacher Stephanie Wolfanger, will use the iPod as a resource to help enhance literacy skills among students in sixth grade.

Lycoming Valley Mural Project ($1,500) – Kathy Gorg and Julie Hammond are seeking funds to help bring a visiting artist from Philadelphia (Jon Laidecker) to Lycoming Valley to help students create an outdoor mural. All students, in grades four to six, will be included in planning and painting the mural, fulfilling National Art Standards.

The WASD Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “secure and sustain resources for the establishment, support and enhancement of programs and activities which enrich education and life experiences of the district.”

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